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Galileo Search & Rescue

For three decades the Cospas-Sarsat system has used relays on satellites such as Europe’s Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) and MetOp to pick up distress calls from ships and aircraft. – Illustration: Cospas-Sarsat©

Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation network does more than let the user navigate – it is also helping save lives. On 6 April the spotlight was cast on Galileo’s Search and Rescue service, which pinpoints those in distress on land or sea.

This service is Europe’s contribution to the Cospas-Sarsat international satellite-based locating system that has helped to rescue more than 42 000 people since 1982 – the only system that can independently locate a distress beacon wherever it is activated on Earth, it is said. The service was formally premiered on 6 April, a date chosen to highlight the Cospas-Sarsat 406 MHz signal.

Galileo within new system. Like the US GPS and Russian Glonass, European Galileo satellites are carrying Cospas-Sarsat MEOSAR (Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue) transponders. – Illustration: NOAA©